Huawei opens Harmony OS to other hardware-makers to rival Android and iOS

But analysts are skeptical Huawei's homegrown operating system will get adopted by competitors.

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
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Sareena Dayaram
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Huawei's Hamony OS is spreading its wings.

FRED DUFOUR/AFP via Getty Images

Huawei said that it would open up its operating system, Harmony OS 2.0, to third-party hardware manufacturers, including rivals, on Thursday. This is part of an effort to bolster its number of users and potentially take market share from Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems. 

"The milestone we're marking is that we're supporting Huawei devices from Harmony OS 2.0, but at the same time Harmony OS 2.0 may also be available to other vendors' devices," Wang Chenglu, president of Huawei's consumer business group's software department said at the company's annual developer conference in the Chinese city of Dongguan on Thursday.

"Harmony OS 2.0 will be available to all hardware manufacturers." 

The Chinese company also said that a beta version of the operating system will be available across several device categories including smart watches and televisions starting Thursday. It plans to roll out Harmony to phones in December. 

Huawei's move is likely aimed to get "wider acceptance" of Harmony OS and then attract more app developers, said Kiranjeet Kaur, a senior analyst at IDC, in an email to CNET.

"But I am a bit skeptical on how many would actually adopt it considering that Huawei is actually a competitor," Kaur said.  "Although some Chinese players may keep it as a backup option if they face same similar constraints in global markets and if Harmony OS gets more popular in the China."


The Huawei Mate 30 Pro was released last year without the Google's proprietary apps including Gmail and Google Maps.

Ian Knighton/CNET

At the same conference, Huawei announced that Harmony OS 2.0 will begin running on its own phones starting next year. This marks a change of course for the world's largest smartphone-maker, which earlier said it intended to stick with Android unless it was forced off by US sanctions.

Huawei first introduced Harmony last year, in the wake of its addition to the US entity list that prevented American companies from doing business with the Chinese phone-maker. The US trade ban left Huawei's phones without the full power of Google Mobile Services and a suite of popular Google's proprietary apps including Gmail, the Google Play Store and Google Maps.

Huawei said 96,000 apps are integrated with Huawei Mobile Services -- an increase from 60,000 in May, which was the last time the company publicly released this figure. The company also revealed that there are 1.8 million develops on board, up from 1.4 million in May. Even when taking that progress into account, it represents a small fraction compared to the numbers of app developers on either iOS or Android, which have dominated the mobile operating system market for years.